When moving through society in the United States, at some point, we will all encounter the police. Hopefully, it will just be through a traffic stop, but regardless of why there is an interaction, it is important to know how to interact with the police.
Remember, when we talk about the police, there are a variety of officials that qualify as law enforcement officers. These include local and state police, FBI agents, Homeland Security agents, like Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Drug Enforcement Administration agents, etc.
Does one have to engage?
No. One does not have to engage with the police, generally. Indeed, we all have a constitutional right to remain silent, even if one does not feel like they can simply walk away from the police officer. And, one cannot be punished for refusing to answer police questions or participate in their investigation.
In some states, police officers are empowered to ask for identification when stopped, but even in those states, no further engagement is required. When one is driving, if pulled over, we are all required to hand over our insurance, driver’s license and registration. No further engagement is required. This means that, when we are pulled over, we are only mandated to hand over that information, not answer those probing questions all officers are trained to asked in every traffic stop.
What if one does answer questions?
Just like anyone has scene on any police drama, anything one says to a police officer can and will be used against them and others. Please keep that in mind. In addition, lying to the police (and any government official) is a crime itself. But, remember one’s right to remain silent can be invoked at any time, even after one has answered some questions.
What to remember
For our Oregon City, Oregon, remember, in all interaction, once one provides their identification, nothing further is required. No one is required to help the police in their investigations, especially against themselves.